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Prairie View water project gets initial approva

WORTHINGTON -- The Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District received preliminary approval during a Wednesday night Nobles County Planning Commission meeting to move forward with its plans for a water filtration and water quality improvement project on t...

WORTHINGTON - The Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District received preliminary approval during a Wednesday night Nobles County Planning Commission meeting to move forward with its plans for a water filtration and water quality improvement project on the former Prairie View Golf Links.

The request will go before Nobles County commissioners on Tuesday for a final decision.

The recommendation came three weeks after the Planning Commission initially voted to continue the hearing due to some concerns raised by farmers Mike and Steve Bousema regarding tile they outlet onto the golf course property. The Bousemas contended the rise of the ponds could lead to backups in their tile lines during larger rain events.

Surveying was done on the tile outlets last week, with the data used to create profiles showing the drop in elevation of the lines. Worthington’s city engineer, Dwayne Haffield, said the north tile has a 10-foot drop, while the southwest tile has an 11-foot drop.

There was some discussion about the tile lines being under water with the rise in the pond level, but OOWD Administrator Dan Livdahl pointed out the tile lines were already under water with the Tuesday-Wednesday rainfall.

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One condition placed on the permit before it was approved for recommendation is that the watershed district be responsible for maintenance of the tile outlets and ensure they remain in working order.

The Prairie View project, once completed, is designed to recover and be ready for a new storm within 48 hours after runoff discontinues.

The watershed district was awarded a $428,000 grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources’ Clean Water Fund last December to complete the project. The work includes modification of three ponds on the former golf course to help improve water quality before the water flows into Lake Okabena.

With the use of sand filters to settle out nutrients, the project is anticipated to remove an estimated 945 pounds of phosphorus and 123,000 pounds of sediment from the water each year. In April, the E.O. Olson Trust awarded $26,000 to the watershed district to help cover the local share of the project.

In other action, the commission:

  • Gave preliminary approval to Lismore Telephone Co. to construct three utility huts in Nobles County as part of its broadband expansion project. The huts will be built on land owned by Nobles Cooperative Electric at 22636 U.S. 59, by Warren Wass at 29424 300th St., and by Art Frame, 16465 Paul Ave.
    Each of the huts will house electronics and will be secured. The request will now advance to the May 23 Nobles County Board meeting.
  • Voted to continue a hearing for Jose Vasquez, 19378 Paul Ave., Worthington, regarding the number of vehicles stored on his site. Vasquez initially appeared before the commission in February, at which time approximately 100 vehicles were counted on his property. He was asked to remove some of the vehicles as the commission considered a reasonable limit to be kept on site.

In the weeks since, Vasquez has removed 31 vehicles and has titles for more than 50 of the vehicles that remain.
“It appears he’s making a good faith effort,” said Nobles County Environmental Specialist Kathy Henderschiedt, adding that the commission consider giving Vasquez a few more months to continue to reduce the number of vehicles.

A motion to continue the hearing to late August, with a recommendation to reduce the number of vehicles to 30 - not including personal vehicles for the Vasquez family - was approved.

Variance for hog barn approved Earlier in the evening, the Nobles County Board of Adjustment met and approved a request from Nicholas Nolte, Ellsworth, to vary from the required 275-foot setback from the centerline of a township road to construct a 122- by 196-foot total confinement building on a three-acre site in the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of Section 10, Grand Prairie Township.

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Due to the location sited for a well, Nolte requested to construct the hog barn 20 feet closer to the road, or 255 feet from the centerline.

“The well witcher told me where to dig the well and I’m six inches from the manure pit, so we’d like to go 20 feet to create a safe distance,” Nolte told the board.

Dave Goedken, Nolte’s stepdad, said a hook-up to rural water was considered, but it was too expensive. He also said the location of the building will allow for trucks to load out without blocking the road with the use of an existing driveway and proposal to add gravel.

Nobles County Feedlot Officer Kathy Henderschiedt said she’s worked with Nolte since last fall, and the location for the barn is the best option.

“This was the best scenario with the least amount of variance request,” Henderschiedt said. “(The barn is) pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. Had it not been for the requirements for the well, this would have been a walk-in, walk-out permit.”

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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